The Rescue [37]

By Stuart Trueman

It was supposed to be a quiet paddle around Bundeena, then back to the Café for cake & coffee.

Sharon had not been in her kayak for a while so we were going to have a quick look at the ocean so she could get the feel again.

We reached the point of Jibbon Head. It had a small reef causing a few breakers and to show how clever I was I cut close to the reef in between the breaks. I turned round to see Shaz following, she thought I knew what I was doing so it would be OK. With my mouth dry I cheerfully waved her on out of danger and headed out to sea, away from any other temptations to show my apparent disregard for the sea, incase Sharon picked up any bad habits. As it turned out I need not have worried, as I was to display where this attitude can get you in spectacular fashion.

As we turned the corner we were treated to a profile view of a jet skier shooting over 3metre waves just before they smashed into the cliffs, ‘Must be sure of him-self’ I thought. We headed off for our little potter along the coast when I realized the annoying buzzing of the jet ski had stopped, I had a look about as I couldn’t imagine he could have gone back with out us noticing. In between swells I could see the ski smashed up against the cliffs and after getting closer I saw the crew bobbing in the surf zone. He was not moving, his arms down by his side, I could not be sure he was conscious. If unable to fight he would have been smashed into the rocks with the next set, so I set off.

As I got to where I thought there was no turning back I shouted which seamed to wake him up, then he asked what he should do? At that point realizing he was OK and knowing there was nothing I could for him I should have headed out of there faster than a Polaris missile. I suggested he head in, looked round in time to see a 3-metre wave forming. I back paddled and just made it over the top, as I was wondering how a human would handle being between a wave like that and rocks I paused under a 4-metre wall raising itself off a rock shelf. Again I tried the back paddling trick but I was not to get away with it twice, as I reached the ridiculous angle before It pitch polled me I allowed myself a smile at the futility of the fight.

I tucked myself in the set up position, which saved me from hitting any of the underwater rocks, and which I hoped would give some drag slowing me down before the crunch. There was so much soup due to the waves and back wash, it was like having my head in the clouds. This meant I had almost nothing to purchase on to slow me down or to roll with. When I ran out of sea I felt nothing but it must have been hard as my buttocks were bruised for days after, I tried a couple of rolls but in the soup against the rocks, it was a slim hope and if successful then what?

Out we get, the back wash pulled my kayak away from the cliffs then thoughtfully threw it back at me, I threw myself under the water letting the kayak pass over. I have already lost my front teeth in much lesser waves after being hit by a kayak in a separate incident, so having my head between a swamped kayak and very hard rocks I knew was something to avoid. After an ungraceful scramble up the rocks dragging the fully swamped kayak the adrenaline drained way as I saw the damage to the kayak, the bow was smashed in for five feet. Shit! To top it off the ungrateful git of a jet skier never said thanks for my attempts at finishing him off with 18ft of missile and could only run about like a headless chook crapping on about his insurance while the sea finished his ski off. I allowed myself a second smile as it sank.

Shaz had done the right thing and buggered off no doubt grateful for the valuable lessons learnt by watching me find out yet again that the sea is a powerful force and will catch you out should you push your luck.

I would like to thank Dave Winkworth for quickly fixing my kayak up, allowing me to complete a solo crossing of Bass Strait over the New Year.

(Stuart, I think you should stand up at the next AGM and recite this poem off by heart – Ed)

Ode to a Jet-Ski person

Jet-ski person, selfish fink.
May your silly jet-ski sink.
May you hit a pile of rocks,
Oh hoonish summer coastal pox

Noisy smoking dickhead fool,
On your loathsome leisure tool,
Give us all a jolly lark
And sink beside a hungry shark

Scream as in it’s fangs you go
Your last attention-seeking show
While on the beach we all join in
With “three cheers for the dorsal fin”

Michael Leunig